Communication, they say, is key. The phrase might first bring to mind the written or spoken word, but it’s just as applicable to visual forms of communication as it is to any others. For instance, a program book for your next performance.

When you design a performing arts program book, it needs to be visually interesting and has to convey information clearly, which is why excellent design is paramount. So, how do you determine the best layout and design to accomplish this vital task? Here are some tips to set you down the right path.

Stay True to the Basics

The elements of a great performing arts program book design lie in the rudiments of creating great page layouts. A good program book, after all, is a collection of well-crafted pages that help tell the story of the night’s performance. You should make use of the litany of designer’s tricks that have been employed for years: unity, balance, ample white space, contrast, scale, etc.

You’ll want to structure information on your pages to create a hierarchy between the different elements that you employ. For example, your titles and headlines should be more distinct than paragraph text. To achieve this, you’ll have to make use of contrast—a variance in the size, weight, proportion and color between the different elements you have in your program book.

To ensure that the content in your program book can be easily absorbed by readers, you’ll need to make use of legible typography. There’s a growing list of fonts that are considered legible and illegible, as well as a few that have made the “avoid at all costs” lists through years of misuse by inexperienced designers. Avoid them at all costs.

You should also make certain that your page elements have room to “breathe.” You can achieve this by utilizing white space and spreading out your content. For instance, “ad wells”—bunched up advertisements in a single focal point—are an inadvisable practice. Instead, sprinkle those ads throughout your content, creating a greater sense of balance.

These are, of course, only a few of the concerns you should keep in mind. You can read up and learn more by consulting any of the number of resources regarding design elements available across the internet.

Remember Your Image

Throughout the process of figuring out your best program book design, you should always keep your image in mind. The program book, in addition to conveying information about the night’s performance, also represents your brand. Tie elements back to your theme, making certain that the overall “look” is identifiable to your organization, and you’ll be rewarded with a program book that captivates both your patrons and advertisers at the same time.

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